This is a remarkable film. The film-makers explore the impact on families, and particularly on parents, of the death of a child. Their own son, Josh, died in an accident whilst travelling in Vietnam and his death plunged them into the messiness and heartbreak of grief. In their grief, they sought to understand more about parental mourning by undertaking a road trip, visiting Vietnam and the scene of Josh's death, and then visiting families across the globe (largely the USA) to talk about how they deal with the death of a child.
Cinematic skies and beautiful landscapes from their trip contrast with intimate and heartbreaking close-shot conversations with grieving parents recounting their loss and the impact of bereavement. It is hard to watch and sad to hear. And yet... In giving us this glimpse into the forever-different worlds of these families, we are compelled to notice two recurring themes. One is the simple fact of human mortality. This film makes us more fully aware that our own lives, and the lives of everyone we love, are temporary. There's a sense that finding the joy in the everyday is a precious and urgent task.
The other is that every family describes the sense of abandonment by friends and neighbours in their grief: that those who don't know what to say avoid saying anything, even avoiding the bereaved themselves. By sitting alongside so many grieving families, one after another, the viewer is brought to understand that there is nothing we can do or say that can ease this kind of grief, but that is not what we are required to do. Our supportive role is simply to be willing to be present, to witness, to use the dead child's name and hold them in memory. This grief cannot be 'made better.' But by simply turning up, powerless, lost for words yet willing to be present, we can hold a space for the grieving and mark our sense of shared humanity.